The impact Hollywood has on the general public can't be overestimated. After "Blue Thunder" was a big hit, I had to explain to more people than you might imagine how there was no such thing as "Stealth Mode" on the helicopter!
The machine I fly weighs just under 7,500 pounds when it is at it's maximum weight. It has to move a lot of air to pick it's fat self up.
There are two 700 horsepower engines doin' a lot of work, and lots of stuff turning in order to get that job done.
The noise it makes is beyond the threshold of pain.
We are aware of the noise, particularly at night.
When I teach students, I tell them, "fly over a guy's house once and he'll say to himself, 'sounds like a helicopter.'
Fly over a second time, and he'll exclaim, 'damned noisy helicopter!'
Fly over the third time, and he'll be saying, 'what's the phone number for the FAA?'"
He has that right. We'd like to avoid that outcome.
I fly straight nights.
I prefer night flying for reasons that started with my tour in Viet Nam, and I'll cover that in detail later.
Night flying can be hard.
Weather can make it more dangerous.
It's also when more of the serious accidents happen, and I do more scene responses than the day guy does. Scene landings are the closest thing to Combat flying you can do as a civilian. They get your blood pumping!
Our aircraft is based at a little airport in a town of 4500 people.
When we take off at 3 A.M., we try to make as little noise as possible.
Even so, most of the 4500 know we are on our way somewhere.
Last week, one of my Flight Nurses was in the Wal-Mart SuperCenter in uniform, standing in line waiting on the cashier. A lady walked up behind her in line and said, "I live just down the road from where you park your aircraft. I hear you guys taking off at all hours of the night."
My Nurse tensed a little for what she expected.......a noise complaint.
Instead, what she heard was, "I just want you to know how comforting it is to hear that helicopter going out to help someone. It's good to know you are here in case we need you."
Isn't that nice?
Warms my heart!